Getting to Know the Girls

December 4, 2013 4:01 pm Published by

My first few months at JBFC were devoted to making sure day-to-day operations on campus were running smoothly (for anyone who has ever visited Tanzania, this can best be described as making sure things are running “as smoothly as possible”): guests were safe, healthy, and happy, the girls and employees had the resources they needed to succeed, helping Chris reduce his overburdened schedule in any way possible, and, above all, learning what life at JBFC was like.

While I was certainly able to interact with the JBFC girls on a daily basis, this left little time to actually develop close relationships with them or to really get to know them on a personal level. Over the past couple of months, I have had the wonderful opportunity to start getting to know some of these girls in a more in-depth way, and I would like to take this chance to share some of these experiences.


Over the past couple of months I have spent many afternoons working on various projects with Elizabeth- a wonderful teenager who just finished Form 2 and who has a smile that lights up the entire JBFC campus. Elizabeth is one of the most curious people I have ever met- a trait that my uncle Barak taught me at a young age is an extremely valuable tool for anyone who wishes to be a life-long learner.

Through my conversations with Elizabeth, which range from Bible study, to computer training, to advice about how to navigate the social anxieties of the teenage years, to advice about how to navigate the social anxieties of being a foreigner in Tanzania, to stories about family, friends, and America, I have learned that Elizabeth has as much, if not more, to teach me, guests, and anyone else that comes her way as she does to learn. She is wise beyond her years and her wisdom helps guide her, her JBFC sisters, me, and everyone else on campus. While I have taught her phrases like “out of the blue” and it “it’s my pleasure,” she has taught me that the power of love, understanding and patience overcomes that of hatred, ignorance, and jealousy. While I have taught her how to open an internet browser, she has reminded me not to worry about what other people think and to live life in a moral, ethical, and nonjudgmental way. While I have taught her where Maine is, she has reminded me that “cool” is and should always be what I deem as “cool.” And she has taught me that with enough time in an afternoon and a little bit of patience, anyone (including her), can type an email.


I have learned, and I think most people may know this already, that Liku is the queen of “cool” (based on my definition, as Elizabeth always taught me to use), but I would imagine most people would see her this way, too. I have learned that Liku is one of the kindest, most hard working, and most caring people that I have come across in all of my travels in America, Tanzania, and beyond.
 It has been “my pleasure” (and most of the older girls can be found saying this now when someone tells them thank you), to be able to spend several late afternoons/early evenings drinking ginger tea with Liku and learning about her life before JBFC, what she enjoys learning about in school, reading “James and the Giant Peach,” and answering questions about how/why a white American got the name “Massawe,” moved to Tanzania, and ended up working at JBFC. Most of all, I have gotten to learn that beneath the surface “cool,” there is a heart-warming sensitivity that Liku possesses and uses when needed to comfort anyone- sister, guest, or otherwise.

Neema R

While Liku might be who I consider the “Queen of Cool,” Neema R. is the self-appointed “Queen of JBFC” (I was told this, and then later saw it on a poster, in a very matter-of-fact way). From my first days at JBFC, I had wondered whether Neema would ever warm up to me and allow us to have a real conversation. She would sometimes, and still does sometimes, come off as completely uninterested in talking to me. Many times when I tried to reach out to her she would say she was busy practicing football, studying, or cooking. This surprised me as during my first experience playing football (soccer) with the girls, Neema and I found ourselves playing defense together and, to me, I thought we bonded. The following day I could barely get a “hi” from her.

I’ve learned several things about Neema recently: first and foremost, she enjoys other peoples’ sarcasm as much as she enjoys her own sarcasm. Sarcasm (and sometimes, to Chris’s dismay), has allowed me to get to know Neema in a way that just three months ago I thought would never be possible. Second, her shyness is a ploy- an outlet- a way for her to simply continuing being “the queen” without having to assert herself too much (she is a natural-born leader). Lastly, football is the key. When Neema approached me asking if I could organize a football match between JBFC and Lugeye Secondary School, I told her “it would be my pleasure” to help, but that she would have to do the heavy lifting on her own. For the next couple of weeks, it truly was my pleasure to get to spend afternoons helping Neema draft letters, respond to inquiries, pick out uniforms, create a roster, assign/organize various responsibilities, and practice leadership. She will be an amazing leader someday, regardless of where she ends up.


Blogger Seth Diemond is JBFC’s Campus Manager.

Categorized in: , ,

This post was written by Mainsprings